The History of the Kings of Britain

by Geoffrey of Monmouth

Other authorsLewis Thorpe (Translator), Lewis Thorpe (Introduction)
Paperback, 1984



Call number




Penguin Books (1984), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 384 pages


Completed in 1136, The History of the Kings of Britain traces the story of the realm from its supposed foundation by Brutus to the coming of the Saxons some two thousand years later. Vividly portraying legendary and semi-legendary figures such as Lear, Cymbeline, Merlin the magician and the most famous of all British heroes, King Arthur, it is as much myth as it is history and its veracity was questioned by other medieval writers. But Geoffrey of Monmouth's powerful evocation of illustrious men and deeds captured the imagination of subsequent generations, and his influence can be traced through the works of Malory, Shakespeare, Dryden and Tennyson.

User reviews

LibraryThing member upstairsgirl
The Penguin Classics edition benefits from a chatty and informative introduction, which greatly helps the non-specialist make sense of the dense and gory text. I'd have preferred some more in-text annotation to help sort out the firehose of kings and gore, but that's not really the point of Penguin Classics.
LibraryThing member RogueBelle
A really fascinating look at pre-historical, Roman, and Dark Age Britain. The stories are generally little-known, but contribute a great deal to modern literature. Recommended for lit geeks. ;)
LibraryThing member MMWiseheart
This book should be read as a work of literature and not as an actual history. Geoffrey of Monmouth did write the history of the kings, but he also invented a great deal of it. In some cases, it is hard to tell what is fact and what is fiction. That aside, The History of the Kings of Britain is absolutely wonderful! This is especially so in the chapters about King Arthur. Until now, I had only heard the typical Arthur pulls the sword from the stone and becomes king, marries Guinevere, and is betrayed by Guinevere and Lancelot. This is a whold different take on the traditional King Arthur.… (more)
LibraryThing member Elizabeth.Michele
Assigned in College, very interesting if not a little difficult to get through.
LibraryThing member Loptsson
A version of the history of Britain that everybody needs to read at one point or another. At times it can be a bit boring, but for the most part it is very interesting and moves briskly. Trying to match events in account with current records can be challenging, and well that is part of the fun of the work to be honest.
LibraryThing member imamura.s
I have interesting in Britain`s history. So I read this book. Britain` history is brilliant. but this history have many pains and many pepole` sacrifice. And Britain start democratic government. This is geart thing. becouse Britain extended democratic.
LibraryThing member stillatim
There are too many things to review here. Geoffrey's history is refreshingly well written for a medieval latin work, and the translation is very well done. It's not, of course, 'history' in any sense, and it can be pretty hard work slogging through the parts that don't deal with dramatic or fabulous stories. Parts of this felt like the bible's begats, and nobody needs more of that. The good stories, on the other hand, were genuinely interesting- Arthur of course, but also Locrinus' love for Estrildis, the story of King Leir, and the various narratives of battle trickeration.

The other thing to review is this edition. Good translation, but awful apparatus. I really needed something to tell me what, if anything, was historically accurate and what was pure fantasy. As it is, I kind of sort of remembered some names from Bede or recent histories of dark ages Britain (Penda, for instance). I would have loved some footnotes giving me a bit more information; it also would have made the text itself more interesting.

In any case, well worth reading. I'm ready to move on to some later Arthuriana.
… (more)
LibraryThing member MaowangVater
Geoffrey’s history is too much chronology and too little history. He’s left the story out of the history—ironically because so many stories were generated by his chronicle of stick figures squabbling. Geoffrey’s account is about as interesting and listening to someone else reciting their genealogy for hours on end.
LibraryThing member DinadansFriend
An example of the murky boundary between history and romance in Plantagenet times. This is good entertainment, a racy history that would please the Plantagenet court. Modern research has disproved almost everything in it, but it remains an artefact of the period. it definitely provided the basis of other author's work. there's another book that has crossed my shelves a good deal like this in tone, and sadly, veracity, Dudo of Saint Quentin's "History of the Normans." If you like this one give Dudo a try.… (more)
LibraryThing member jcovington
Very subtle and clever political attacks on his theologial historian contemporaries.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

384 p.; 7.7 inches


0140441700 / 9780140441703

Local notes

= Historia Regum Britanniae

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